The first reading of today is drawn from the opening chapter of the Book of Ecclesiastes. The Book of Ecclesiastes is one of the most unusual and perhaps most difficult to understand books of the Bible. It’s author is known as the Preacher . It has a spirit of hopeless despair; it has no praise or peace; it seems to promote questionable conduct. Yet these words of the Preacher show us the futility and foolishness of a life lived without an eternal perspective; a life lived without God. The question in Ecclesiastes isn’t about the existence of God; the author is no atheist, and God is always there. The question is whether or not God matters.

In the search for this answer, the Preacher searched the depths of human experience, including despair. He thoroughly examined the emptiness and futility of life lived without eternity, without God before coming to the conclusion of the necessity of eternity, of God. We face the appalling inference that nothing has meaning, nothing matters under the sun. It is then that we can hear, as the good news which it is, that everything matters – ‘for God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.’”

The life of Herod in the Gospel text practically exemplifies the restlessness and futility of a life without God. Herod has lived his whole life like God does not matter. He took his brother’s wife out of greed, selfishness and lack of contentment, and assassinated John the Baptist, the voice of truth. He felt that by doing this, he could have peace of mind and fulfilment. But here he is, restless at the news of Jesus. No wonder, Scripture rightly puts: the wicked run when no man pursues. His money, power, fame, riches, are all vainglories. They cannot give him fulfilment nor add meaning to life. Herod like Solomon in the first reading has learnt the bitter truth.

We too, men and women of this generation need to learn the bitter truth. The bitter truth that life is short. When we embezzle public funds, oppress the poor and the weak, and leave them languishing in abject poverty and misery. We must know that life is short. When for the sake of political ambitions and positions, we sacrifice young virgins, take human lives, destroy the future of youths, and surrender our souls to the devil, Life is short. When we sell the progress and development of our communities for personal and selfish interest, Life is short. Our flashy and expensive cars, we parade all over the place, our houses and assets in different parts of the world, our fame and name, our academic qualifications and degrees, even our connections cannot safe us. God alone can because, he alone matters. We must therefore pray like the Psalmist today: Lord, help us to know the shortness of our days that we may gain wisdom of heart.



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